Lavery puts forward LEP case

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Cornwall Council chief executive Kevin Lavery has been in putting Cornwall’s case forward to MPs for the Duchy to lead its own Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The Government is currently studying proposals for LEPs across the country, which will replace the various Regional Development Agencies.

There has been a call from some quarters for a South West ‘Devonwall’ LEP, embracing Devon and Cornwall, but it is not Cornwall Council’s favoured option.

The Council submitted its proposal last month for a Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP. And addressing Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills committee, Lavery said that while it was important to work with Devon on such issues as transport, ultimately Cornwall need to have greater control of its own economy.

He told MPs: “We think, on balance, it [an LEP] is going to work better at a Cornwall level, and we know that’s going to be strongly supported by the local community.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. It is interesting to read the response that is looking for regional direction and a two-tier system.

    Whilst, undoubtedly, a regional approach to main infrastructure is required, the Government has already stated that it will determine the planning permissions for nationally important infrastructure proposals, moving these from the defunct Infrastructure Planning Commission to determination by democratically elected Ministers.

    In respect of other economic development, I believe that LEPs will only exist in a single tier at sub-regional level. We must not forget that the Government’s motivation is its fundamental policy of decentralisation. Regional direction is not compatiable with the localism agenda.

    I do not necessarily hold the view that a Devon and Cornwall partnership would be a bad thing, despite also being Cornish. I have been impressed by the Devon County approach to recycling provisions and its promotion of its tourism industry, both of which are nationally regarded. In planning terms, Plymouth City Council is a forerunner for the changing systems that have emerged over the last decade, and has won numerous awards for its proactive approach to the adoption of its Local Development Framework. Cornwall, on the other hand, is one of only two authorities within the whole SW region that is still at the first, evidence gathering, stage.

    Nonetheless, I believe that the Cornwall IOS bid is positive in its own right and therefore, likely to succeed.

    There seems to be a general reluctance to consider where the future of LEPs is. It is not this Government’s objective to simply replace one public body with another. These partnerhips are intended to bring local public and private sectors together for the benefit of the local economy. With the whole country now having coverage by LEP bids, I can foresee a progression towards LEP’s being tasked with the provision of as many local services as they are capable of efficiently and effectively providing, specifically in terms of the pressure on the public purse.

    A move to local service provision through a public and private sector partnership at local level is consistent with the Government’s progressive policies of public sector cut backs and decentralisation. Our little kingdom may ultimately, therefore, fall under LEP rule so it is imperative that the right basis for it, be it geographical or otherwise, is adopted from the outset.

  2. I am Cornish and want to see the county independent from handouts and grants. It is well capable of doing so, but it needs to become business and demand led to achieve this.

    At a meeting of business representive organisations across Cornwall, Devon and South Somerset at the end of last week, the overwheming opinion was that we need regional representation for regional issues – planning, transport, bidding for regional funds and regional projects like Wave Hub and more local representation for local economic development issues. It was therefore the opinion of virtually all that attended that there should be a two tier approach.

    With regards the geography of the overarching regional tier it was viewed that it should be far smaller than the old SWRDA so that it is not Bristol centric, but should include south Somerset, which naturally looks towards Exeter both in terms of travel to work and economic geography. So if there were to be a regional LEP, it should include Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Devon, Torbay, Plymouth and South Somerset. It would however be wholly appropriate for the local eceonomic development program, working on an autonomous basis to be delivered by Cornwall IOS.

    The key to all of this is to get the public sector and private sector working in “partnership”, which to date is clearly not the case. If they can start to work together then what could be achieved could be fantastic. Will it happen? time will tell, but if not it will have been a massive lost opportunity.

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